Five Challenges of Traditional Data Collection
When a team goes into the field equipped with a pen, paper and clipboard, or even with a less-than-ideal digital solution, common challenges and trends begin to emerge.
While these more dated options were as efficient as they could be, serving a purpose at one point in time, they no longer meet the needs of most organizations.
Today, organizations relying on field data require timeliness, accuracy, efficient collection methods, complete data sets and customizable options that meet specific needs. Each of these is a drawback associated with traditional data collection, as outlined below.
Frequently, information collected in the field must be manually entered and processed to become valuable. This means that the time it takes to produce reports, often invalidates the reports, forcing companies to make decisions based on outdated information.
When data collection solutions are in place that provide end-to-end processing and reporting, information gathered in the field can be sent via automated workflows to charts and dashboards that provide instant, streaming information, no manual effort or time required. If delays were eliminated, what would your business be able to accomplish?
The potential for error increases each time a human effort is required to enter or manipulate data. Whether that means transcribing information from a piece of paper to a spreadsheet, copying and pasting spreadsheet fields or sorting information to report on it, each “touchpoint” increases the likelihood that a dataset contains errors.
When data is entered in a digital format, using a mobile solution, then sent through a pre-set workflow, the need for transcription is eliminated, along with all other human “touch points.” This decreases the potential for errors and increases the chance that a dataset is as accurate as possible.
It’s a fact: when manual data entry and reporting take as long as a field inspection or data-gathering initiative, efficiency is reduced.
When pre-customized forms are in place that auto-populate certain fields while collecting metadata, along with “smart” technology that ensure a form cannot be submitted until it is completed, efficiency increases.
When a field team is equipped with state-of-the-art mobile solutions designed specifically to decrease duplicate efforts, time in the field, along with time spent working with data post-collection, are reduced. This decreases billable hours and increases the speed at which data is collected.
4. Missed Data Points
When data is missed during collection, a second inspection or repeat site visit is often required. This cuts down on time that could be spent collecting additional data or performing additional inspections.
Using mobile data collection solutions that prohibit the completion of a report until required fields have been filled, field teams can be sure that each form is complete, without the need to repeat efforts or revisit inspection sites.
5. One-Size or “Out of the Box” Solutions
One-size or “out of the box” solutions may sound appealing, simple to deploy and ideal, especially as they relate to specific industries or purposes.
Unfortunately, these solutions don’t allow the flexibility that most organizations require. Over time, data collection and reporting needs change. What worked in the beginning may not work moving forward. When a solution isn’t flexible, this means a new solution must be sought whenever changes like this are required.
Likewise, one-size solutions may cause data overflow, forcing field teams to collect data that may not be relevant, taking up extra time and complicating the reporting process.
No two businesses—even in the same industry—are the same. Therefore, no solutions should look identical. Instead, customizable, flexible forms that are designed to collect targeted business data are ideal. They allow for stronger, more accurate reports and put the control where it belongs: in your hands.
These are just 5 drawbacks of traditional data collection solutions. You have likely experienced other frustrations as well. The first step toward moving past these challenges? Moving beyond pen and paper data collection.